The national cuisine of Cyprus has been formed over many centuries. During its history, the island was repeatedly subjected to seizures of different empires, which affected local traditions and culture. In the culinary sphere, recipes of Greek and Turkish origin are common, as well as traces of the influence of Italian cuisine.
Characteristics of Cypriot cuisine
Cypriot cuisine is a classic Mediterranean trend that has absorbed the culture of cooking from other parts of the world. On the island there are gastronomic features of Greece, Turkey, the Southern Balkans and other regions of the Mediterranean, as well as the culinary arts of Great Britain and the countries of the Ancient East.
In the northern part of the island, Turkish traditions prevail, and in the southern part – Greek. Individual culinary delights have retained the original recipe, but have survived many changes.
In Cyprus, vegetables and spices are often used as ingredients, including:
National cuisine offers an abundance of kebabs from pork, chicken, lamb and other types of meat.
Food in Cyprus is reminiscent of the food of Greece and Turkey. Locals use only high-quality olive oil, prepare cheeses, meat and fish products, and also eat fresh fruits and vegetables all year round.
Often, food is seasoned with fragrant herbs, such as:
Hot peppers are not particularly common. The basis for meat dishes is lamb. No less in demand is the meat of rabbit, pork and poultry.
At the same time, beef does not have such popularity, which is due to regional characteristics. Engaged in animal husbandry on the island is quite problematic due to the limited area for walking animals.
In the cuisine of Cyprus there are many seafood and fish dishes. At the same time, ingredients are often delivered from neighboring countries.
History of the development of the cuisine of Cyprus
Due to the advantageous location of the island in the Mediterranean Sea, it often found itself under the rule of different empires that captured the territories of Europe and the Middle East.
Cyprus was conquered by the Assyrians, Persians, Greeks, Romans and Egyptians. For 800 years, the island was part of Byzantium, and in the XII century it was occupied by the English King Richard the Lionheart during the 3rd Crusade.
The greatest impact on the cuisine of Cyprus was exerted by Greek and Turkish culture. When the island was taken over by the British, gastronomic traditions of Asian and Northern European countries appeared on it.
Popular cooking methods
A distinctive feature of the local cuisine is cooking by grilling on coals. This tradition was introduced by the Greeks and Turks. The dish, which is baked for a long time in a confined space called kleftiko, is prepared in special clay ovens, which provides it with a special taste and aroma.
To prepare a meat masterpiece of suvla, which in many ways resembles traditional kebabs for Russian cuisine, open fire is used. Cooking takes 1.5-2 hours.
Large types of fish and seafood are grilled using coals.
Basic products and dishes in Cyprus
Favorable climatic conditions and fertile soils allow residents of Cyprus to grow different fruits and vegetables. Grapefruits, oranges and even plantations with banana trees grow on the island. In some regions there are vineyards. There are pear, olive and walnut trees in Cyprus.
Meat dishes are prepared from pork, lamb, poultry and rabbit meat.
Fish & Seafood
Since the island is located in the Mediterranean Sea, a variety of fish species are found near its shores. It is caught in the morning, and in the evening it is already served in fried or grilled form.
Popular dishes include sea bass and bream. They are grilled. Small fish, such as crucian carp or mullet, are fried in batter.
Popular treats include squid carcasses and fried octopus tentacles. From seafood, fish meze is prepared, which is a set of different ingredients.
In most cases, meat is not fried in oil, but stewed or grilled. Food has a light and delicate taste, and also a pleasant aroma. Meat is seasoned delicately, so do not be afraid that you will be served a peppered or spicy dish.
Olive oil is an integral product in Cypriot cuisine. In every supermarket, grocery store and market counter you can find quality products that are produced on the island.
The best oils are sold in village oil mills, which are warehouses where collected olives are stored and then pressed.
Everyone who comes to the island needs to try local fruits. In Cyprus, oranges and tangerines, apples, peaches, pears and apricots are common. The island is included in the list of the 5 largest suppliers of citrus among European countries.
Oranges and tangerines grow on almost every street and fall on the sidewalks. Lemons and grapefruits can be plucked fresh immediately from the branches.
Spices and spices
The cuisine of Cyprus is distinguished by a wide variety of herbs and spices.
- Lemon verbena.
- Bay leaf.
Spices are exported to different countries of the world. All spices are seed plants that have antiviral and antibacterial characteristics. Many foods contain more antioxidants than popular vegetables and fruits.
National dishes of Cyprus
The range of national dishes in Cyprus is quite extensive. Grilled food, delicious cheese, meat and vegetables are the key ingredients of different feasts.
In any catering establishment in Cyprus, you can order a meze without opening the menu. This gastronomic masterpiece will allow you to get acquainted with the national cuisine of the island, trying various traditional snacks, cold and hot dishes.
Pickled olives, cheeses, pâtés, salads and fresh vegetables are served on a plate. The list of compliments from the restaurant often includes local vodka.
In some cafes you can specify the desired type of meze:
- Meat – is an appetizer of smoked sausages, Cypriot cutlets or kebabs, which are served in small portions.
- Fish – consists of different seafood, by default, from crab or shrimp.
- Classic – the recipe includes cold appetizers, sauces and vegetables.
In most cases, the plate is ordered for two. The cost of a classic meze is 15 euros. Options from fish or meat will cost more.
The meat product is in many ways similar to the classic kebabs. In this case, pieces of pork or lamb are not processed, before planting on skewers.
The meat is cut into large pieces, treated with salt and spices, and then cooked on fire for 1.5-2 hours. During the first hour, the kebab is kept high above the coals, and before serving on the table, it is shifted lower.
Sheftaglia means a small cutlet that is wrapped in film or pork oil seal. Ready-made sausages are fried on coals or grills.
In addition, sheftal can be baked in the oven and cooked in a frying pan in meat. Food can be served with a potato side dish, a salad of fresh vegetables.
The dish is found in almost every Greek restaurant and snack bar, but in Cyprus it is not so popular. Small segments of pork can be marinated in dry wine with spices.
After that, they need to be fried until golden brown and poured with marinade. The food goes well with the traditional yogurt sauce.
A dish called souvlaki is an indispensable attribute of street food. Delicious kebabs on miniature skewers can be bought in quick-service restaurants or in eateries. In addition, they can be found in the assortment of elite restaurants that specialize in national gastronomic destinations.
By default, souvlaki are made from pork or chicken. Less often, local sausages are used for this.
Along with the meat, french fries, pita, spicy sauces and vegetables are served. The combination of different products allows you to form an unusual harmony of tastes.
The national culinary masterpiece is prepared according to all the rules and baked in a special clay oven. As the main ingredient, tender lamb is used, which is served with potatoes.
Food should be simmered in a pot for 3 hours. During this time, the potatoes will be soaked in the juice from the meat, and the lamb will get the smell of thyme or fragrant oregano.
The dish can be ordered at any fast food establishment or diner. In appearance, it resembles shawarma. According to historical references, gyros was brought to the island by the Greeks. But there is information about his Turkish origin.
The appetizer is always served wrapped in pita, inside of which there are french fries, vegetables and sauce.
A brine cheese called halloumi is similar to Italian mozzarella. A fresh snack is often included in vegetable salads, and in the summer it is eaten with watermelon. Roasted halloumi has interesting taste properties. It can be found in the composition of burgers or sandwiches.
The classic Cypriot dessert can be ordered in the southern regions of Russia and georgia, so it is very popular among tourists from the Russian Federation.
For its preparation, Turkish delight and Georgian churchkhela are used, which contributes to an unusual combination of flavors. The delicacy is best consumed together with tea.
Htapodi is beautiful
Fish dishes in Cyprus are usually served not in standard, but in thematic “fish” establishments. For the preparation of chtapod krasato, octopus is used, which is stewed in red wine for a long time until the product acquires a delicate taste and aroma. Residents of the island recommend eating this dish with potatoes, fresh vegetable salad and wine.
Cyprus serving of dishes
Locals prefer to serve tables taking into account ancient gastronomic traditions. Along with meat food, snacks from cheeses, fruits and vegetables, as well as homemade wines, are always served.
At feasts there are seafood, meat delicacies, which are often combined with vegetarian products.
At the same time, serving meat and fish on the same table is not recommended. Initially, guests are offered snacks, then main dishes, and finally – sweet treats.
Recipes of Cyprus cuisine
There are different recipes for cooking traditional Cypriot masterpieces. With their help, you can prepare a full-fledged culinary masterpiece that will not be inferior to the taste of food served in a cafe or in an elite restaurant.
To prepare a delicious lamb kleftiko, you need to prepare a meat product by washing it and dividing it into small pieces with cuts. To get a marinade, you should dilute in 1 tbsp. white dry wine 1 tbsp. l honey, garlic, rosemary, mint or other spices and fresh herbs. The consistency should be stirred to obtain a sour cream-like mass, and then lubricate the meat with the resulting marinade.
Before placing in the oven, lamb should be wrapped with aluminum foil (you can do this together with potatoes, onions and carrots). The cabinet is heated to + 200-250 ° C and baked for 20 minutes. For another 1.5 hours, the dish languishes at a temperature of +150 ° C.
A delicious meze snack can be prepared from such products and snacks:
- Tahini is a classic snack of sesame seeds, which are ground with lemon juice.
- Olive is another traditional snack. Olives are served pitted and pitted.
- Dolmadakia – the dish is prepared from grape leaves, which are stuffed with minced meat, spices and rice.
- Talatury – is a yogurt with finely chopped cucumbers, garlic and mint. The snack is served chilled.
Desserts and drinks
The main dessert in Cyprus is fresh fruit. At the same time, local confectioners offer other delicacies that can be prepared with their own hands.
- Paluse is a grape jelly based on sujukos. To give a characteristic aroma, the recipe includes basil and geranium leaves. If the paluse is boiled to the state of marmalade, then it will get the form of kyophtherium.
- Pastels are a classic pastille, but not from fruits and berries, but from the fruits of the carob tree.
- Rizogalo is a delicious rice pudding mixed with cinnamon. Sweetened porridge with milk can be eaten hot, but it is better to cool before serving.
To make a local drink called ayrani, you need to add cold water, ice, mint and a small amount of salt to the yogurt. Chinno is a fruit syrup combined with ground ice. In the classic recipe, the drink includes the juice of the prickly pear cactus.